We ought to take outdoor walks, to refresh and raise our spirits by deep breathing in the open air.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
There has been a lot written about shinrin-yoku a Japanese term meaning “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” In Australia we’d probably call it “bush bathing.’
The idea is to take a slow walk through the forest, bush or any natural area stopping to admire anything that takes your fancy. This could be a leaf, tree, flower or rock. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, 15 or 20 minutes is often enough to benefit from the calming and restorative effects a walk in the bush can bring.
There are many reasons why a walk in the bush or forest can be beneficial for your health but the main reason given by researchers is that many trees give off compounds that support our immune system. Although this fact wasn’t known at the time, there were doctors in the past that set up sanatoriums in European pine forests to treat tuberculosis with great success.
Another reason to try shinrin-yoku is its stress relieving benefits that include lowering blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, headache relief, improved sleep, greater creativity, improved mood and increased energy. Simply breathing in deeply during your walk can help you experience these benefits.
You don’t need to find a long bush track to experience these effects. You could get the same benefits in a small park by sitting under a tree and taking the time to admire its leaves, flowers or bark while inhaling deeply. On one of my walks to the next suburb there is a small grove of eucalypts that I could walk through in 2 minutes or less but I take the time to slow down and admire the way each is different. It only takes a few minutes but is very uplifting. I’m also very lucky to have a bush track and river minutes from where I live.
As shinrin-yoku is at its core taking the time to admire nature and slow down you could also spend time in your garden admiring the trees, flowers, herbs or whatever else you maybe growing there. Taking this time to slow down helps to relieve your stress and the symptoms that accompany it.
But what if you don’t live near any nature and don’t have a garden you can retreat to? Essential oils can come to your aid. You can bring the scents of the bush or forest into your home and enjoy the benefits these little power houses bring.
Choose 2 or 3 essential oils from those below and place 6-8 drops in total in a diffuser to bring the bush or forest to you. You can also add them to a personal inhaler that you can take with you whereever you go. In addition to the benefits above these oils are very beneficial for the respiratory system.
Buddha wood – Eremophila mitchellii – uplifting, muscular aches and pains
Cajeput – Melaleuca cajeputi – lethargy, focus, respiratory issues
Cedarwood – Cedrus atlantica – grounding, courage, respiratory issues
Cypress – Cupressus sempervirens – emotional and physical transition, respiratory issues
Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus radiata – hemmed in, overwhelm, respiratory issues
Eucalyptus Staigeriana – Eucalyptus staigeriana – uplifting, anxiety, respiratory issues
Fragonia – Agonis fragrans – anxiety, stress, focus, muscular aches and pains, respiratory issues
Juniper – Juniperus communis – cleansing, worry, arthritis, mental fatigue
Kunzea – Kunzea ambigua – nervous tension, emotional and physical pain, muscular aches
Lemon Myrtle – Backhousia citriodora – stress, focus, uplifting, respiratory issues
Lemon scented tea tree – Leptospermum petersonii – concentration, air purifier, respiratory issues
Niaouli – Melaleuca quinquenervia – stress, mental fatigue, respiratory issues, muscular aches and pains
Pine – Pinus sylvestris – self-worth, self-confidence, respiratory issues
Australian Sandalwood – Santalum spicatum – contemplation, stress, respiratory issues
Silver Fir – Abies alba – clarity, anxiety, stress, respiratory issues
Spruce – Picea mariana – mental fatigue, clarity, centring, burnout, respiratory issues
Tea Tree – Melaleuca alternifolia – tolerance, positive outlook, respiratory issues
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. Third Edition, Vol.1The Perfect Potion, Australia (2018)